someone asked me today if i had always been fit, or if i’d just recently started enjoying the outdoors.
i gave a truncated answer, and decided to expound on it here, seeing as how there’s some fun history associated with it.
my mom is overweight. now, that hasn’t always been the case, as there are photos of her when she was younger and she’s very thin in those, but ever since i can remember, she’s been overweight. my grandmother and all four of my aunts are all overweight as well. so, it’s genetic, and it’s diet, and it’s lack of activity that got them there. i remember as a little girl recognizing that my mother was fat and i drew a picture of her being popped by a pin. it was a scathing childhood commentary on what i thought of my mother.
i don’t know where i got the idea from, but somewhere deep inside me, i didn’t want to end up like my mother and her family. now, it’s every girls nightmare to realize that they are exactly like their mother, but for me it was much more. i think i wanted to distance myself so far from identifying with my mother that i opted to take the opposite extreme. i remember as a girl watching olympians like zola budd, steve prefontaine, sabines braun and busch and my favorite, heike drechsler. seeing them compete and exert themselves was very addicting to me. i actually remember watching the 1984 olympics during the zola budd/mary decker fiasco and my mother changed the channel to watch some ridiculous program. haha…that infuriated me.
so i ran, and rode and swam. and i hiked and backpacked and rafted and climbed. and when i entered uni, i decided i wanted to save the world, join greenpeace and study renewable resources. so i focused on forestry studies and spent my time hiking and enjoying the outdoors. but there was really no focus to my activities. it was mostly just running to stay fit, and hiking just to be outdoors. then i moved to la and met bob and michelle.
bob and michelle were one of the first running couples that i met in la. bob was a marathoner and michelle would typically run the half marathons while bob would run the full. we would get together on occasion and run together at the various parks and trails around la. nearly every time we’d get together, bob would ask me when i was going to run my first marathon. we’d joke about it, but i never thought that i’d ever want to run more than 10 miles at the most. i was a perpetual 5k racer, and never hand any aspirations of running any races longer than that. bob and michelle talked me into changing that.
at about the same time, i had met group of girls and started hiking with them on a regular basis. they came up with the crazy idea to climb mt. whitney in the sierras, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. thoughts of girl power, and showing the guys on the trails just what we’re made of empowered me and i started hiking and running with renewed enthusiasm.
so, i climbed mt. whitney for the first time in 2001, and ran my first marathon in 2002. having a goal to train for has completely changed my joy in exercising. before, i would run just to be able to wear the same clothes (and to keep from turning into my mom). now i run with a goal in mind; the next marathon. it is a true passion for me now, and the racing bug has bit me hard. in addition, i’ve found a true love for the mountains. the only thing that can compare to completing a marathon is standing at the summit of a mountain. the view, the smell, the success, it is beyond any feeling that i can name.
the neat thing is that my mother is one of my strongest supporters. she tells all of her friends, and anyone who will listen about her ‘olympic daughter’. hahah, she’s going to get me into trouble with that title. mom and pop came out to the states for my first race and parked themselves at the 20 mile mark to cheer me on. mom screamed herself hoarse for all of the runners and wore her hands out with clapping. unfortunately, i did not see them while i was running, and had to wait until after the race. but we met at a local restauraunt after the race, and mom made a spectacle of herself cheering for me as i walked up to greet them.
it’s funny how my desire to be unlike my mother has brought us so close together.